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Thursday, November 21, 2013

THE LONELY GARBER - An Away Day Guide to: Chicago Fire

Makes "Datsun Park" look like a hole 

Welcome to "The Lonely Garber" - a highly factual-ish travel guide for the adventurous football supporter to some of Major League Soccer's most fabled destinations. Also: Columbus. Join us now as we continue our way across this girthy continent...

TOYOTA PARK - Bridgeview, Illinois

Nestled along the Long Duck Dong Bay of southern Lake Michigan is the quaint and utterly relaxed hamlet of Bridgeview, Illinois - Chicagoland suburb and home to Chicago Fire. Although archeological evidence of a past Native American settlement named Brathemocblanco (Translation: "Where the Rotund Goat becomes Sausage") is abundant, modern-day Bridgeview is a relatively young village, fiercely proud of its moniker as "America's Day Off Town".

Incorporated in 1986, Bridgeview had a peculiar start as co-founder and first mayor, Cameron Frye, using clauses from the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, managed to seize control of the region from former hardline local area principal Edward Rooney. Frye, with support of a local population of motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies and dickheads established the town in honour of a local dying teen (later proven to be misdiagnosed). To celebrate the (apparent) short time the teen had left on this earth, Bridgeview was proclaimed as a place where anyone in the Chicago-area that needed a "day off with no questions asked" would always be welcomed.

With such blatant disregard for work ethic, Bridgeview has had more than its fair share of economic hiccups but has prospered somewhat in the synthesizer, gag medical diagnostics and erotic floral delivery industries. With an exciting "daylife" (as opposed to "nightlife") Bridgeview has something for anyone who may have a few hours to kill. Must-sees for any sightseer include: the cured meat wonderment of The Abe Froman Hall of Sausage; the deep lush wilderness of The Ferrari Ravine; and, the whimsical Multilingual Multilevel Parking Garage (gratuity not included). So take a day off for Bridgeview, Illinois... just tell them there's a funeral or something.

Village motto: "Ohhhhh yeeeah! Chicka-chick-ahh"

Charity begins at home...

The first misconception about Toyota Park is that it was bestowed its title through corporate sponsorship. Incorrect. The adequate soccer-specific stadium was actually named after the previously mentioned dying teen's wish that his parents would purchase him a 1985 Toyota Corolla. Instead they bought him a computer. In turn that wish became a stadium.

Built on the site of the once-renowned French restaurant Chez Quis (condemned after a rat infestation scare), Toyota Park has all of the modern amenities that any football fan desires. A community hot-tub, the local stock exchange, an art gallery and ample seating down the third base line are just a few of the perks Fire fans enjoy. Live a little! Be sure not to miss the lump of coal that was once shoved up Hristo Stoichkov's ass and became a diamond - on display in the west stand concourse.

Attendance at Chicago Fire matches is quite robust but usually provides opportunity for the travelling supporter to purchase seats without problem. A unique element to attending Fire matches is that the stadium has a strict general admission policy based on Reagan-Era supply-side economics. This is better known by its street-name "Voodoo Economics". Voodoo economics.

The stadium's box office opens a few hours before matches. After staff call out the names of all those due to attend that day's fixture, unclaimed seats are offered to the public at face-value with the announcement: "Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?"

Note: Gum-chewing is highly frowned upon inside the ground

VP of Ticketing/Roll-Call - Chicago Fire

The Chicagoland area is well-known for its hard-nosed, blue collar sports fans but volatility is tempered by the strict local laws banning anyone from working too hard. While supporters' groups such as "The Sloane Ultras", "The Chicago Frye-rs" and "The Breakfast Club" are very vocal (their "Hey batta, batta, batta - s-wiiing batta!" chant being a favourite) they are also very political-minded citizens that don't condone fascism - or any "ism" for that matter.

The general fan-base found at a Chicago Fire fixture are usually just looking to pass a few hours and avoid being spotted on TV by their bosses. Ample seating is usually available in higher rows of the ground where you will find a blend of disheveled school principals, bikini-clad sunbathers and snooty maître d's.

Warning: Some of the tougher crowd elements tend to sound just like Dirty Harry.

The Chicago area is of course famous for some very cholesterol-inducing yet delectable treats, all of which are faithfully re-created at Toyota Park. From a deep-dish slice of pizza pie from an 80’s video game arcade on the lower concourse to the "Abe Froman: Sausage King of Chicago" stands located every 12 feet throughout the stadium - you are never far from a gastronomic cardiac challenge which may have you calling in sick to work the next day!

For a local sweet treat we do recommend finding one of the awkward vendors of "Soft Pocket-Warmed Gummi Bears". They're so choice.

Don't be snooty - eat Abe's meat!
While Planes, Trains & Automobiles would be the obvious choice of most travellers, for those on a budget there are alternatives to finding your way to Bridgeview from central Chicago. Keep an eye out for one of the daily German parades that snake their way from the Chicago Loop towards the Bridgeview-area. Once you pass an ensemble of local teens popping-and-locking down civic steps, veer south and run wildly through backyards using the convenient public trampoline system. Local barbeques offer free meals en route but do be aware of angered teen girls driving station wagons in leotards who tend to disobey stop signs on the way.

The Yorkies wish you happy trails but are in no way responsible for your tourism choices nor any strains of disease contracted in transit. Unless you have a great trip - then tell everyone it was all us. Bon Voyage!

From this series:
THE LONELY GARBER: Los Angeles Galaxy

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